Tuesday 26 September 2017

Three Companies, Two Flowmeters, One Happy Customer

Team approach proves successful for airport metering application

One of the questions that is frequently raised when I conduct training sessions is about the relative differences in the application of portable and fixed installation ultrasonic flowmeters. The standard answer that I have traditionally given is that the 'portable clamp-on meters are for finding problems, and the fixed installations are for solving them'. This is a nice line to use in a presentation and is certainly correct in many circumstances but in truth the differences are more subtle than this.

It is therefore useful to be able to present a recent installation with which Katronic were involved. This example highlights the usefulness of both technology types for the same customer, at the same location.

We were approached to provide both portable and fixed-installation ultrasonic meters for a project at one of Scotland's busiest airports. The airport operator was faced with the considerable problem of having a one hundred year old 18 inch water pipe running directly under the runway feeding water to several local towns. Given the location and age of the installation there was concern about the impact of the day to day airport operations on the pipeline, and the possible implications if a failure were to occur.

With up to eight mega litres of water flowing under the runway each day it was crucial that the operator was able to monitor, measure and act upon any changes to the flow to avoid major incidents. They first contacted Syrinix, a leader in intelligent pipeline solutions to provide a Pipeminder system to provide live data on what was happening in the system. In order to have the complete view of the situation there was a need for flow measurement and Syrinix chose to work with Processplus Ltd. to provide and support a package of instrumentation including two Katronic KATflow 100 ultrasonic flowmeters.

Before looking at the longer-term installation there was a need for an initial survey of the location. This was required to set a benchmark, and identify the best locations to install the "solution" of the two permanent flowmeters. This is a typical example of how both types of clamp-on instruments can be used.

Initially engineers from Processplus took a KATflow 200 portable ultrasonic flowmeter to the two locations to survey the piping and gain provisional data. They did this preparatory work in order to prove that that technology was suitable for the proposed measurement, and to get an initial baseline reading of the expected flow rates. The compact and practical KATflow 200 was ideal for measuring in the confined conditions under the runway. It was also a testament to the performance of the flowmeter that it was able to produce good measurements in spite of the age and condition of the pipeline.

Once the initial survey had been completed satisfactorily two KATflow 100 clamp-on flowmeters were installed at the locations identified. The Katronic meters were connected to the Pipeminder with the outputs provided in order for the data to be analysed. This device is programmed to alarm, should there be an unexpected or sudden change in the flow rates seen by the clamp-on instruments. The Pipeminder is also connected to pressure caps on fire hydrants either side of the airport and will alarm, should there be a rapid pressure loss.

The information from these combined instruments will allow the user to monitor changes in the pipe condition. Crucially the system will give an advanced warning of any potential pipe burst and provide the customer with peace of mind for the years to come.

At its simplest this example seems typical of the "find it and fix it" scenario mentioned above but it also shows the value and importance of using both instrument types in tandem. The KATflow 200 is not just for highlighting a problem, it can be used to provide qualitative and quantitative information in preparation for a subsequent install. Fixed meters like the KATflow 100 used here, or the more advanced KATflow 150 then ensure peace of mind with the minimum of disruption to the location, and hopefully a happy customer. 

Andrew Sutton, Managing Director of Katronic Technologies Limited